Arizona Cardinals: Former head coach Joe Bugel passes away

The one-time head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and well-respected offensive line guru passed away just three months past his 80th birthday

As the National Football League was busy making plans for the 2020 campaign this past weekend, the Arizona Cardinals family was subjected to some unfortunate news. It was announced on Sunday that Joe Bugel, the 34th head coach in franchise history, had passed away. Bugel, the Cards sideline general from 1990-93, was 80 years old.

Bugel was hired by the Cardinals back in ’90, just two years after the team had relocated to the desert. The longtime NFL assistant replaced interim head coach Hank Kuhlmann, who had taken over for the fired Gene Stallings during the 1989 season. The Cards had won just five games that year, and were hoping that Bugel could get them pointed in the right direction.

Unfortunately, Bugel’s stint with the club was a dismal failure. In his four seasons as the squad’s leader, the Pennsylvania native compiled an unimpressive 20-44 record. Bugel was sent packing by the front office after the Cardinals posted a 7-9 mark in 1993.

Back in the 1970’s, Bugel began to build a reputation as one of the best offensive line coaches in football. He spent two campaigns (1975-76) performing that duty with the Detroit Lions, and another four (1977-80) as the teacher of the Houston Oilers blocking unit. What Bugel would accomplish during the 1980’s, however, was what really earned him a tremendous amount of respect around the league.

From 1981-89, Bugel presided over a group of Washington Redskins offensive linemen nicknamed “The Hogs”. Players like Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, Mark May, Jeff Bostic and George Starke were a huge part of the two Super Bowls won by the Redskins during that decade. Bugel’s success with Washington’s o-line essentially catapulted him into the Cards head-coaching job, and likely helped him land the same position with the Oakland Raiders in 1997.